The December Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics mark six years since the official beginning of the Great Recession in December 2007, and four-and-a-half years since its official end in June 2009. The report shows that job openings declined by 43,000 in December, bringing the total number of job openings to 4.0 million. Meanwhile there were 10.4 million job seekers in December, meaning that there are only enough job openings for 38.5 percent of job seekers.
In her analysis, EPI economists Heidi Shierholz writes that this means that more than 60 percent of job seekers were not going to find a job in December no matter what.
“It’s important to realize that we are a long way from a healthy labor market,” said Shierholz. “In normal times, there would be roughly as many job openings as job seekers. With such an elevated job-seekers ratio, now is no time to cut spending or pull back on support for the jobless.”
Shierholz looks at other indicators of labor-market health, including the rate of hiring, which has seen no improvement in nearly two years, and labor market “churn,” which is still extremely low. Lastly, Shierholz writes, due to the fact that unemployment is elevated across all sectors, today’s labor market weakness is not because workers don’t have the right skills—it is due to a broad-based lack of demand for workers.
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States.
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